47 Ronin (2013)

This movie is based on an old Japanese legend of a man who was forced by honor to kill himself after he assaulted a court official in a palace. His Samurai were then left masterless to plot their revenge - killing Kira, the official their master was accused of assaulting in the first place. It is based on a true story, so you might suspect that it would be a nice Shogun Warrior-style movie, rooting firmly in reality.

So, how do you mess with this story?

Step 1: Embellish. Yep, let's include strange witchcraft, spells, monsters, and other such fantastical features to take the realism right out of the story. With so much stuff being added to the story that is pretty clearly fake, the danger is somehow reduced in the audience's mind, as this has become a fairy tale, and those usually end up with a happy-ish ending. Shapeshifters, undead, magic, dragons, and lots of other stuff combine to make it a less enjoyable experience than it might have been.

Step 2: Insert American for no particular reason. Keanu Reeves is explained away as a half-breed who was raised by unknown creatures and was adopted as a kind of project by the master of the 47. When I saw that Keanu was in this movie, I immediately thought of The Last Samurai. How can you not? A story about feudal Japan starring an American? These two movies would have a lot in common on the surface. It turns out, this is a much worse movie.

Step 3: English. I have no problem with these movies being in English, as I prefer to listen to the movie rather than read it. However, some of the people have no accent, and some have strong accents. There's no real explanation for it, but you can't really expect a movie that features blood magic to round out their premise with logic.

Step 4: Explain nothing. Who the hell is the gargantuan guy that shows up? How does his armor work? What mystical powers are controlled by who? Are some swords better than others? How so? Why haven't they tried to domesticate the really strong monsters?

The acting was generally good, but the characters not so much. It seemed jerky and dull. There were a lot of people that I vaguely recognized from other movies, but they didn't have characters that they could fill. The movie was just too worried about special effects to bother making realistic characters.

Directing was not great
Story was okay
Dialog was bad
Effects were good
Acting was descent



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